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Generality of Deviance: Replication of a Structural Model Among High-Risk Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1992
17 pages
A test of a structural equation model separating general and specific components of deviant behavior, including alcohol and drug use, delinquency, and criminality, was conducted in a longitudinal study involving a cohort of 201 juvenile detainees.
Data were collected through a self-report questionnaire which included items on 23 delinquent acts summed into five scales: general theft, drug sales, index offenses, crimes against persons, and general delinquency; the youths also submitted to a urine test. The results indicated that each behavior, with the exception of alcohol use, is a manifestation of the general tendency toward deviance as is, in part, a unique phenomenon. The findings were not affected by the subjects' gender or race and were similar across the five summary measures of juvenile delinquency. The self- report measure of drug use was loaded highly on the general deviance construct, while the urine test results were the highest loaded variables on the drug use, specific deviance factor. The results suggested that both types of tests should be used in research that examines the causes, correlates, and effects of substance use. The authors found the model of stable general and specific deviance factors to fit the data well. Further analyses demonstrated that the general deviance model was inadequate to fit the data and required the addition of the specific alcohol and delinquency factors. The findings highlighted the need to develop multidimensional, continuous intervention strategies to redirect the lives of youths who are at high-risk of substance abuse and delinquency. 2 figures and 19 references

Date Published: January 1, 1992